Take a look at video compilations like Dash Cam Owners Australia and you will quickly see many motorists are using dash cams to capture footage of car accidents or unusual events on the road – and it seems to be growing in popularity.
Dash cam use has reportedly tripled in Australia over the last three years and we are even starting to see new cars, such as the Citroen C3, launch with built-in dash cams as optional extras, designed to give drivers added peace of mind.
When comparing car insurance providers, bear in mind that owning a dash cam probably isn't going to score you a discount on your premiums just yet. However, there have been a number of reported cases where claims have been processed quicker when footage of an accident was provided as evidence.
Footage may also help you avoid excess charges and protect your no-claims history if, for example, a hit and run driver can’t be found. Victims of attempted car insurance fraud, particularly in situations where innocent drivers are falsely accused of causing damage or personal injury to others, could potentially clear their names with video evidence.
An extra set of eyes
According to Budget Direct, in the last decade there has been a 24% increase in the number of vehicles registered in Australia and while deaths on our roads have decreased, the rate of injuries in car accidents has been on the rise since 2001. Nose-to-tail collisions are the most common of all accidents, followed by failure to give way and colliding with a stationary object. In light of this, dash cams are one way some drivers are choosing to add a degree of protection in case of an accident where they are not at fault.
He said, she said
Imagine this scenario: say one driver had failed to stop at a red light and instinctively braked and reversed back, only to collide with the car already waiting behind the line. Usually a nose-to-tail collision will see the car behind blamed, however with dash cam footage, it could be used as evidence to confirm that, in this instance, the fault lay with the car in front.
These situations are not unusual. According to the NRMA, the most common claim disputes arise in relation to collisions that occur at intersections, while changing lanes, colour of lights changing, reversing or when a parked car is hit by an unknown third party. They encourage customers to submit relevant footage of an incident so it could be considered as part of a claim.
Some points to consider before purchase
While the use of dash cams is on the rise and, in certain circumstances, the footage can be crucial to the success of an insurance claim, there are some insurance providers and industry experts who insist they are not a necessity. Whether you have footage or not, it’s important to continue to get the basics right when involved in an accident. Always make sure to note down all details of the crash and the personal information of any other drivers involved. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, it can also be useful to gather eyewitness accounts, take photos of the scene and file police reports.
Considering getting a dash cam? Here are some key points you should know:
- The quality of footage can vary, so it can pay to do your homework on which dash cams you think will give you the clearest clips.
- Most cameras should turn on and start recording automatically as soon as you switch the car on. Some can even operate when a car is parked, which could be a useful feature if it is hit while stationary.
- Dash cams typically record footage in short video files. Once the memory card fills up it should loop over and automatically record over the oldest files first, with the idea being drivers should have the most recent footage should an incident occur. Keep this in mind if it is likely you may want to access older footage.
- A G-Shock sensor can be a useful feature to have as it can tell you where the impact came from, which may be helpful in insurance claims.
- GPS tracking can be useful to have as it will give you specific details including the location, direction of the crash and the speed you were travelling at when it happened.
- The use of a dash cam is legal in Australia so long as footage is being recorded in a public space, however your dash cam must be on a fixed mount and not obstructing your view while driving. It could also be worth checking the laws in your state or territory, including the legality of recording with audio.
- As a rough guide, prices for dash cams in Australia can vary from $50 - $600, depending on the model.
Remember, your own dash cam footage can potentially be used in claims against you should you cause a car accident or be caught breaking the law whilst driving. You can find a huge range of affordable dash cams over on Amazon Australia, eBay and Catch.
Dash cams have become a popular in-car accessory as drivers want to ensure they have evidence to support them in case of a crash, or as a way to capture interesting incidents they're witness to. Catch is offering great deals on dash cams with most under $150 and even some for well under $100. Here's what's on offer.
Josh Sale is a Senior Research Analyst at Canstar, responsible for the continued methodology development and delivery of Canstar's flagship Star Ratings. J